THE UNITING CHURCH IN AUSTRALIA
OFFICE OF THE GENERAL SECRETARY
Telephone: (08) 8982 3400 PO Box 38221
Facsimile: (08) 8982 3499 Winnellie NT
ABN: 44 834 585 067 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, March 10, 2020
I hope you have been sustained by the Grace of God as you continue to provide the best of you in serving our people and community.
The Uniting Church through the Assembly office would like each Synod to advise its members with information about the virus.
Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) latest Northern Territory specific updates
We are prepared for a potential coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic spreading to the Territory.
People should be alert, but not alarmed.
Ongoing research and evidence suggests that COVID-19 presents as a mild illness in the majority of cases, with fever and cough being the most commonly reported symptoms.
Severe illness and fatalities occur more often in people who are older, have chronic conditions (e.g. cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and hypertension) or are immunocompromised (e.g. cancer, renal disease). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may also be at increased risk.
We are opening a pandemic clinic at the Royal Darwin Hospital and are planning more across the Territory. These clinics will test and treat patients away from hospital Emergency Departments.
There is no need to stockpile food or toilet paper. However, you may want to have a few weeks of essential items such as regular medications in case you become unwell and cannot leave your home except to seek medical treatment.
If you are well, you do not need to wear a mask unless you have been advised to do so by a medical provider. Surgical masks in the community are only helpful in preventing people who are suspected or have COVID-19 from spreading it to others.
We all have a part to play in reducing the risk of getting sick and stopping the spread of infections:
• Stay home from work and school if you are unwell (e.g. don’t go shopping or use public transport until you are well).
• Avoid contact with others if you are sick (particularly vulnerable people such as older persons and people with chronic medical conditions).
• If others are sick, keep your distance from them as much as possible (at least 1.5 metres), avoid close contact such as shaking hands, hugging, kissing.
• Wash hands regularly, particularly after going to the toilet, blowing your nose or handling used tissues.
• Cover coughs and sneezes with a clean tissue or your elbow.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, or handling food, until you have washed your hands.
• Wipe down frequently touched surfaces.
For the latest health information on the coronavirus, go to the Australian Government’s Department of Health website. Fact sheets for the general public, health professionals and industry are also available on this website.
The World Health Organization has put together myth-busting information for the public. To find out more, go to World Health Organization website.
All updates area available on www.securent.nt.gov.au and SecureNT Facebook
In regards to Northern Synod congregations, schools, agencies and related services including Op shops, please follow the above bullet point advice.
In summary again:
• If feeling unwell, stay home and make other arrangements with your relevant reporting body.
• If experiencing symptoms (fever, cough, and difficulty breathing) seek medical advice.
• Wash hands thoroughly using soap and water. Hand washing liquid must be made available at all venues.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, or handling food, until you have washed your hands. • Limit the need to shake hands or be in close contact with one another. This may include sharing the peace (Congregations may want to create their own unique way of sharing the peace)
• If others are sick, keep your distance from them as much as possible (at least 1.5 metres). Do not get too close when speaking to others.
• On Holy Communion Sunday’s please take care in the preparation by washing hands thoroughly, etc. and avoid the use of sharing one cup and one bread. If possible, prepare cut up small pieces and use small cups for communion instead. All servers including Presiders over Communion must wash their hands with hand liquid in front of people before serving.
• People should be encouraged to not to sit too close to each other during services and meetings.
• In regards to Op-Shops including volunteers, please consider similar arrangements to above. Items of secondhand clothing may need to be washed thoroughly before being ready for sale to the public.
• Only staff members are to be at offices and workplaces with limited people entering the workplace including family or friends.
• Discourage people from just dropping by unannounced.
• Avoid organising face to face meetings and instead meeting by teleconferencing unless it is absolutely necessary.
• If you are diagnosed with Coronavirus (COVID-19) you are to follow the instructions given to you by the health professionals (14 days self-isolation). If a paid staff or employee, your time away will not be deducted from your sick leave or Annual Leave.
• All places of work and congregations are now required to have an Attendance Sign On and Sign Off Book. All people who come to the site must sign in and sign out including Sunday Worship services and all gatherings during the week.
It may be difficult in places like op shops but try to do it in congregations and other places. It is advisable to have the hand washing liquid at the same location.
• All Ministers/Pastors/staff must keep records of their meetings and people they meet and places as it may be required by relevant councils including the Synod office.
• Travel should be limited to Essentials Only. ALL travel whether for personal reason or for work within the Northern Synod must be logged with the Synod via an email advising email@example.com,au prior to travelling.
• All travel to communities under both NRCC regions and PPNA congregations is cancelled until further notice. IF you MUST travel, you are to present your travel plans to the General Secretary via email for approval before organising and booking. We have been warned that our NRCC communities are highly vulnerable.
• All related travel to represent the synod, presbytery or congregations in meetings of other councils of UCA or for training and conferences must seek approval by the Synod General Secretary before making arrangement and booking. Again please advise the Secretariat Office on 8982 3400 or firstname.lastname@example.org
• The tough measures on travel plan is due to the remoteness of our communities and NT people exposure to other states with higher recorded cases of infected population. We also need to log in our Synod system all the staff and ministry agent movement.
For those who speak other languages, please translate them to other members where English is not their birth language.
The health of our staff, congregation members and community is important to us and we rely on everyone being considerate, using some common sense and good hygiene for protection against coronavirus.
We will update you further if and when new information comes to hand. Thank you all for your patience, cooperation and support. May God’s protection be upon you all
If there are any further questions, you may contact Liusem Mauboy (Comm) at 0412180798 email@example.com, Rev Helen Paine (Safe Church) firstname.lastname@example.org, Sue Smith (Synod Admin), email@example.com
Rev Haloti Kailahi